As official sponsors of the 2017 Spanish Spartan Race, we’re all getting ready for a summer of mud runs, cargo nets, walls and ropes. Loads of people are into obstacle course racing, from the casual weekenders who do it for the laughs, to the competitive OCR pros who train year-round to end up on top of the leaderboard.
Just like CrossFit, running an obstacle course race is more of a you vs. you sort of deal, with plenty of socialising thrown in along the way. But, it can be difficult to get motivated to take part, we get that. With plenty to do indoors, without the mud and the cold and the wet, why would anyone bother to run 5, 10km or more through the carefully-organised chaos of an obstacle course race?
We weren’t sure, either, but please believe us: with the right training and the right attitude (and some good friends to take along with you), there are plenty of reasons to participate in a Spartan race. Here are 10 of our top reasons to get out and get muddy.
Test your skill and coordination
Maybe you’re an experienced CrossFitters, or maybe you do some of the stuff you’ve seen in obstacle course races, only separately. Working out in a standard gym, or even regular CrossFit, isn’t quite the same as tackling an OCR.
The challenges most Spartan races put up aren’t like anything you train for on a daily basis. You might run, but scaling walls using ropes, crawling under nets, navigating balance beams and wading through water, are completely different to the barbell and rig work you might be used to.
We can’t stress enough how challenging (in a good way) running and OCR can be for those who’ve never ever done one. You look at it, you think that it can’t be that hard if so many people do it, and in a way you’re right. Running an obstacle course race is as challenging as you want it to be. Jog it and take the obstacles at a leisurely pace, and you’ll have a great time; push yourself, and it’s a different game completely.
Use your functional fitness for something functional
If you are an experienced CrossFitter, however, or if you spend a lot of time training in ways that are functional, but which aren’t necessarily anything to do with OCRs, then taking part in a Spartan race is a great way to test your functional fitness, and to use it for the reason it was intended.
It’s easy to forget sometimes, that if you’re a CrossFitter, you’re training your body to move well, and to be functional. Rarely, though, do most of us get out of the Box and use that fitness to do stuff that’s fun. You could go surfing, or dancing, or you could take what you’re built up in the CrossFit Box and see how it works for you with a few kilometres of track and a dozen obstacles ahead of you.
Using a Spartan race as a way to put your functional fitness to the test is an awesome idea, and we totally encourage you to try it.
Get dirty (really dirty)
Blood, sweat and tears are three things, but unless your WOD takes you on a run around the Box, it’s rare that most of us ever get really, truly dirty. That’s good, you’re probably thinking, and yes, training in the mud and water every single day probably isn’t the most pleasant experience, but every now and then, if only to help you appreciate your indoor classes a little more, it’s good to get out and get covered in mud from head to toe. It’s probably good for your skin, as well.
Have loads of fun
Nobody that we’ve seen in photos or in the flesh, has ever finished a Spartan race looking miserable. There’s concentration and relief, but on the whole, it’s smiles all around. Spartan races are meant to be fun, they’re meant to be social activities. Some people go on their own, going full-on to win, but 95% of the people taking part are there with their friends, and they’re just there to have fun.
Work on your teamwork skills
Whether you’re going with friends or not, you’ll be running, climbing and crawling alongside some of the same people for the entire race, and it’s likely that at some point, you’ll either need help, or you’ll need to help someone else through, around or over an obstacle.
Spartan races are a great way to quickly get back in touch with what it means to be part of a team. You’ll improve your communication skills and make some new friends at the same time.
Work on your leadership skills
Likewise, if you’re trying to become a better leader, where better to test your skills than in the simulated warzone of an obstacle course race? If you see friends or others struggling along the way, providing encouragement and support, maybe some advice, is a great way to help them through, and to give you the experience you’re looking for when it comes to improving your leadership skills. Remember though, that being a leader doesn’t mean telling people what to do. A leader leads by example. Keep that in mind.
Test your endurance
Just like we said that running an OCR is not quite like any CrossFit workout you might have done (possible exception, Murph), once you get out there and start running, taking on obstacles as you go, you’ll soon realise that there’s more to fitness than being able to move weights around quickly.
Bask in the glory of finishing
Everyone who finishes a Spartan race gets a Finisher t-shirt, and some pretty cool photos to remember the day by. It might feel like a pain in the ass beforehand, and it might be a struggle while you’re in it, but afterwards, the feeling of having completed a Spartan is something you’ll be able to tick off your list (if you have one).
Use it as a training goal
Having goals is good, and having a Spartan race as your goal is an excellent way to live your life. If knowing that you’ve got four months until your first Spartan is enough to get you moving faster, working harder, that in itself is a great reason to say that you’re participating.
Enjoy the afterparty
As well as the Finisher t-shirt, most Spartan races offer participants a free beer at the end, to get you in the mood for the afterparty, which there definitely always is.
Sounds good? We’re celebrating our sponsorship of the 2017 Spanish Spartan Race with the release of a limited edition Velites Fire 2.0 Spartan Edition jump rope. Check it out, get yours, and get training.